1111 Thys de Castella Collection: Baroque music in paintings - C.N. Gysbrechts
C.N. Gybrechts, pittore fiammingo (? - post 1684) "Vanitas"
The news about the life of this painter are scarce. He was born in Antwerp, where betwenn 1659 and 1660 he became a member of the Guild of St. Luke. His first known work is dated 1657. In 1664 it is mentioned in the diary of Balthasar de Monconys, then resident in Regensburg that Gysbrechts offered his works for sale; Monconys bought two paintings and a trompe-l'oeil. From 1665 to 1668 Gysbrechts was in Hamburg and from 1668 to 1672 approximately he worked at the court of Copenhagen as a painter; most of his work is now in Denmark. In 1675 he worked perhaps in Bruges. Gysbrechts probably died in 1675 or shortly thereafter. Previously it was thought that he died after 1684 (Willingen/Meijer 2003) but the error was caused by the incorrect reading of the date, 1684 instead of 1664 as it appears on a painting sold at an auction in 1965.
His most famous works are the trompe-l'oeil, of fierce and incredible illusionist value. This image is astounding in its realism, the skull resting on the open books, the atmosphere of disorder that recalls the philosophical school of characters like Huygens, with elements like the watch, and his spring mechanism that folds and unfolds like a last breath. The human condition, the certainty of death, the unlit candle consumed, the hourglass full of sand. Everything going into darkness. And the element of the shell, like live flesh, evoking the sea in front of the countries where he lived; Belgium and Denmark. Recognized as a master of disguise, Gysbrechts here reflects in darkness on the frailness of humanity. With the conscience and relief of the violin resting on the table, the score as a pillow for the skull: Vanitas.
Oil on canvas 63,5 x 48,5 cm
From the catalogue "La Collection Thys de Castella, A musical baroque cabinet des merveilles", a cura di Emiliano Marinucci, eds. B4Baroque
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